In response to today’s (Wednesday 21 September) government announcement that the UK will cut the wholesale price of energy for businesses and public organisations by more than half from 1 October, James Talman, NFRC CEO, said:
‘This is a welcome move from the government at a time when businesses have faced difficult decisions as a result of rocketing energy prices. For many small firms, having this simple and sizeable discount automatically applied to bills will be a crucial lifeline.
‘However, it has to be recognised that many businesses will still be forced to spend more on energy than in previous years. Companies with small margins will still see these eroded by the increased cost of energy. At a time when many SMEs are worried about survival, this may simply be too little, too late for some firms who have struggled for months without relief. The government must now ensure that after the six-month period for which these measures are promised, businesses are not left to bear rising costs alone once again.
‘NFRC members have faced spiralling material price increases, combined with added pressures such as labour shortages, over the past 18 months, and energy costs present an immense challenge that can push businesses, particularly SMEs, over the edge. Clearly it is essential that businesses are given certainty, and should know what to expect for their energy costs for longer than six months. As soon as possible, the government should set out plans for after the six month period. Small businesses will not survive otherwise.
‘The construction supply chain must also play its part, by ensuring all sub-contractors and suppliers are paid promptly and in full, and by ceasing the use of retentions in new contracts now, not waiting until 2025. Our members can’t invest in skills and competency essential to our sector’s prosperity on top of additional cashflow issues.’